Career Start GP Programme for First5 GPs

Dr Shawkat Hasan, NHS Tayside, Primary Care Services, Dundee

The problem

Previously, no formal system was in place to support and mentor newly qualified GP Trainees in their first few years of independent working. Some learnt how to cope on their own, some with the help of others and some left the profession for sunnier climates. Many of them wanted to develop a specialist interest but had no way to arrange this whilst still trying work in General Practice. Some wanted to do develop their medical knowledge further and undertake additional qualifications but found this difficult to fund. To address this issue, the Career Start GP Programme in Tayside was established in 2016.  This was designed to address all the above issues and also improve the recruitment and retention of GPs in Tayside.

The Bright Idea 

The Career Start GP Programme was designed and developed by two local GPs, Dr Shawkat Hasan and Dr David Shaw. Both are GP Partners in Tayside and also Clinical Leads in the local out of hours Service.  Its development was supported by their Primary Care Medical Director Dr Michelle Watts and funding was identified through the Scottish Government Recruitment and Retention funds. As a novel idea, it required close working with the NHS Tayside HR and Finance teams and also clinical secondary care services.  More importantly it involved dialogue and discussion with local GPs, GP Trainees, GP Practices and Community AHP Teams.

This pioneering product is a two-year post designed for First5s which combines both a GP practice job and a specialty element. There is generous protected continuous professional development time to undertake further training or a specialist diploma. The posts can be full or part time to meet the requirements of applicants. The posts have study leave time and study budgets which can be accessed for associated courses and additional training.

The Career Start GPs develop their skills and confidence enabling them to become the best GPs of the future and fulfil the RCGP 2022 Vision.  They work as an integral member of a multi-disciplinary team supporting the local population to live a longer, healthier life at home. The most important part of the programme is the support structure which allows the Career Start GP to gain confidence and flourish in their work. For each individual there is a designated practice mentor and a specialty mentor who are both there to guide, support and nurture.  The Programme is promoted and overseen by the Clinical Lead, Dr Shawkat Hasan, who is there to support the Career Start GPs as they progress through the two years.  There is also the opportunity for peer support with the other Career Start GPs.

 The impact

  • Patients benefit from the additional capacity and enthusiasm the Career Start GPs bring to practices. They also benefit from the specialty knowledge the Career Start GPs are bringing with them into Primary Care from their specialty posts - for example additional Palliative Care knowledge and MSK skills. 

    Some Career Start GPs have been supporting new areas of work in the community such as an acute Medicine for the Elderly Home visiting service and also practice based Psychiatry of Old Age clinics.  

  • Practice GPs have had help with their daily workload and the opportunity to update their skills and knowledge in specialist areas which the Career Start GP is involved in.

    The enthusiasm of the Career Start GPs has reinvigorated some practice teams who may have been struggling to recruit or retain existing staff.


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